The Tinker Board has the potential to make more devices smart and part of the Internet of Things
Asus is taking on the Raspberry Pi micro computer with the Tinker Board, another credit card sized PC for coding enthusiasts currently available for pre-order.
While the Tinker Board only supports 32bit instructions, as opposed to the more advanced 64bit sets supported by the Raspberry Pi 3, the tiny computer still has the potential to be used to teach people how to code or help turn everyday products into smart devices through various DIY projects.
Asus Tinker Board
Retailing at £55, the Tinker Board is roughly £20 more expensive then the Raspberry Pi 3. For the higher price Asus offers a processor in the form of an ARM Cortex A17 quad-core CPU running at 1.8GHz. This nippy processor is paired with 2GB of DDR3 memory and sports ARM’s Mali T7G4 graphic chip.
Performance wise on paper, the Tinker Board is faster than most Raspberry Pi models, except the very latest Raspberry Pi 3 Model B.
The Tinker Board has a decent array of ports and connectivity, offering four USB 2.0 ports, a 3.5mm audio jack, Gigabit LAN and Bluetooth 4.0 support, an HDMI connection and a microSD port for expandable storage. WiFi connectivity comes in the form of built-in 802.11 b/g/n module with support for swappable antennas.
The micro PC also supports H.265 4K video decoding suggesting it has the performance to provide more 3D graphics grunt then the Raspberry Pi.
While the specification looks to offer potentially more performance than the Raspberry Pi. The Tinker Board is sure to be used in a similar fashion to the enormously popular micro computer, which has sold ten million units since its debut over four years ago.
The Tinker Board is likely to appeal to the education sector as a machine which school students can use to learn how to program computers and get a grasp on coding, which is now enshrined in the English education system.
And enthusiasts and developers can be predicted to use the Tinker Board as a means to create all manner of devices, from supporting virtual desktops at low cost to making smart picture frames or in some cases daisy-chaining micro computers together to create a DIY Hadoop cluster.
The higher price of the Tinker Board and the fact that it is coming to an arena already dominated by the Raspberry Pi may be a challenge for Asus, but it is indicative of an appetite for such customisable, affordable and flexible micro computers ripe for tinkering that flies in the face of more locked down and fixed hardware found in many consumer devices.